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Serbia, Kosovo agree to economic normalization, U.S. says

Christian Fernsby |
Balkan neighbors Serbia and Kosovo have reached a historic milestone, agreeing to normalize their economic ties, U.S. President Donald Trump announced Friday.

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Topics: SERBIA    KOSOVO    U.S.   

Addressing reporters in the Oval Office alongside Kosovar Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Trump said the economic pact would serve as a springboard for further cooperation, describing the achievement as a unifying factor.

“Economics can bring people together,” Trump said during a signing ceremony sealing the breakthrough. “There was a lot of fighting and now there’s a lot of love.”

Neither Hoti nor Vucic commented on when a prospective wider normalization in bilateral relations would be possible after asked by a reporter.

Serbia refuses to recognize the independence that its former province, Kosovo, declared in 2008.

Vucic said he is satisfied with the agreement and noted that it was a bilateral agreement with the US and not a trilateral one with Pristina.

"There were difficult talks, we are sincerely satisfied with what we have achieved," Vucic noted, adding that Serbia has nothing to be ashamed of.

"So, the third party is not recognized as a subject of international law," Vucic said on the bilateral agreement.

He stressed that it was agreed to open an office of the US Development Fund in Belgrade, preserve the monastery, as well as Kosovo's accession to the "mini Schengen" and a feasibility study.

"With this agreement, Serbia regulates relations with the world's greatest power," said Vucic.

"A good agreement has been reached for Serbia, because only for Serbia is the opening of the US Development Fund office in Belgrade, there is no such thing for Pristina or anyone in the region. That will mean a strong signal to all credit agencies, shows how interested America is to work with Serbia."

Vucic also noted that the Albanian side, with its agreement with the US, undertook to join the "mini Schengen".

"It doesn't matter whose idea it is, and it was ours ... This will ensure the free flow of goods and capital, which is very important for us," he said, adding that both sides have committed to recognize each other's diplomas.

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